NEW YORK — It’s been five and a half long months but starting Wednesday New Yorkers will finally be able to return to the gym.
Dale Paden is the vice president of marketing for Planet Fitness. All 40 locations throughout the five boroughs are opening their doors.
“Everyone is just excited to get back,” said Paden.
While New Yorkers will be able to pump iron or do cardio to work off the “quarantine 15,” their gym may look a lot different than when they last saw it in March, prior to the shutdown.
“We have what we call social fitness,” said Paden. “We’ve spaced out all the equipment 6 feet, as state guidelines say, and for equipment that we can’t, such as cardio, we turn off the machines so you will never have someone working out next to you less than 6 feet away.”
In addition to social distancing, face coverings are required at all times and gyms will be operating at a maximum 33% capacity.
“We’re going to make sure we’re following the protocols, our members‘ health and safety, our employees‘ health and safety is of top concern,” said Paden. “We’ve spent the last couple of months getting ready, training our teams on all the sanitation protocols and we feel confident we can open safely.”
With each club an average size of 20,000 square feet, Planet Fitness has the benefit of space. They can reopen with new rules in place, but other gyms, many of them boutique, neighborhood ones, must remain shuttered.
Bad Ass Academy in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, specializes in personal training and group fitness classes like spin, yoga and interval training. Anthony Esposito is a founder and co-owner.
“Their argument is indoor classes are not allowed,” said Esposito. “But tell me why a treadmill 6 feet away from each other and two people running side-by-side 6 feet away is OK?”
Since the coronavirus pandemic, Bad Ass Academy has taken a huge financial hit. Their loyal client base still takes part in their virtual and outdoor classes, but it’s only a fraction of the business they used to do.
“There’s zero balance here, give us some balance, give us some guidance as to when we can reopen,” said Esposito, imploring city and state officials. “Come up with a plan, we’re supposed to work together.”
Owners like Esposito say there has been a lack of guidance from Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as an overall bias toward gyms that focus on classes, many of them belonging to small business owners.
Esposito has spent a great deal of money putting in new ventilation with Merv-15 filters as well as sanitation stations, but has still not been told when they can reopen.
“We need to reopen, you’re hurting us financially, you’re hurting our members,” said Esposito.
Esposito is a member of the New York Fitness Coalition, they are now several thousand members strong. The Coalition has filed a lawsuit against the governor to force the state to allow them to reopen.